American actor Jay R. Ferguson came to fame in early 1990s for playing Taylor Newton in the television sitcom “Evening Shade” (CBS, 1990-1994), where he picked up three Young Artist nominations for his performance. He also played regular roles on short lived series like Fox's “The Outsiders” (1990), The WB's “Glory Days” (2002), NBC's “Surface” (2005-2006) and The CW's “Easy Money” (2998-2009) as well as recurring roles on CBS' “Judging Amy” (2003-2004), Showtime's “Sleeper Cell” (2006-2007) and AMC's “Mad Men” (2010). Ferguson also has acted in several films, including “Higher Learning” (1995), “Blue Ridge Fall” (1999), “The In Crowd” (2000) and “The Killer Inside Me” (2010).
Childhood and Family:
Jay R. Ferguson was born Jay Rowland Ferguson Jr. on July 25, 1974, in Dallas, Texas. When he was seven, he moved with his mother Bobbie Ferguson to Los Angeles, California. He was educated at Pacoima Fine Arts Magnet School in Pacoima, California.
Billed as Jay Ferguson, Jay R. Ferguson made his television film debut as teenage Luke in the fact based “Shattered Dreams” (CBS, 1990), starring Lindsay Wagner, Michael Nouri and Georgann Johnson. Also in 1990, the fledgling actor landed the leading role of Ponyboy Curtis on the teen drama series “The Outsiders,” opposite Rodney Harvey, Boyd Kestner, David Arquette and Robert Rusler. Based on the characters from the 1967 novel of the same title by S. E. Hinton, the show debuted on Fox on March 25, 1990 to strong ratings, with over 14 million viewers watching the pilot that became the highest rated drama in the Fox history. However, the ratings soon dropped off after it was moved from 9:30 p.m. to its regular timeslot of 7 p.m. The network eventually canceled the show after eight episodes.
Ferguson's big break arrived when he was cast as Taylor Newton, the son of Burt Reynolds' Coach Wood Newton, on the CBS sitcom “Evening Shade.” He remained with the show throughout its four season run from September 1990 to May 1994, and was nominated for Young Artist Awards in the categories of Best Young Actor Starring in a New Television Series in 1991 and 1992 and Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series in 1993.
After “Evening Shade” departed the airwaves, Ferguson co-starred with Peter Facinelli and Laurel Holloman in the Fox TV film “The Price of Love” (1995). The same year, he also made his feature film debut in “Higher Learning”(1995), a drama directed and written by John Singleton and starring Omar Epps, Kristy Swanson and Michael Rapaport. There he played Billy. Two years later, he played the supporting role of Brad in the comedy film “Pink as the Day She Was Born” (1997), starring Alanna Ubach, Nicole Eggert and Christine Harnos, and portrayed Cliff in the segment “Campfire” of the thriller movie “Campfire Tales,” opposite Christine Taylor and Christopher Masterson. He went on to play Parker Blackman in the rock-and-roll romance film “Girl” (1998), starring Dominique Swain, Sean Patrick Flanery and Summer Phoenix, and co-starred with Peter Facinelli and Rodney Eastman in “Blue Ridge Fall” (1999), an indie crime/drama film written and directed by James Rowe.
Entering the new millennium, Ferguson supported Lori Heuring, Susan Ward and Matthew Settle in the Mary Lambert helmed drama/thriller movie “The In Crowd” (2000), where he portrayed Andy, was cast in the comedy film “Hollywood Palms” (2001), starring Patrick Labyorteaux, Matt Winston and Dean Cameron, and co-starred with Jonathan Brandis and Charlie Finn in Jay Craven's “The Year That Trembled” (2002). In 2002, Ferguson returned to series television as a regular on the suspense drama “Glory Days,” playing Sheriff Rudy Dunlop, opposite Eddie Cahill as Mike Dolan and Poppy Montgomery as Ellie Sparks. The series on The WB from January 16, 2002 to March 25, 2002.
In 2003, Ferguson appeared in the CBS TV film “Criminology 101,” starring Busy Philipps, Marisa Coughlan and Burt Bulos. From October 2003 to May 2004, he played the recurring role of Dr. Todd Hooper in the CBS serial drama “Judging Amy.”
In 2005, Ferguson appeared as Tommy Lehane in an episode of “Medium” Called “Lucky.” Later that same year, he starred with Lake Bell, Carter Jenkins, Ian Anthony Dale and Leighton Meeste in the science fiction series “Surface,” which premiered on NBC on September 19, 2005. The show aired 15 episodes before going on hiatus in February 2006. It has since been canceled by the network.
2006 saw Ferguson appear in two short films, “ Spreading the News” and “ Passengers.” Between December 2006 to January 2007, he played the recurring role of Special Agent Russell on Showtime's drama series, “Sleeper Cell,” staring Michael Ealy, Oded Fehr, Henri Lubatti and Melissa Sagemiller.
Ferguson made a guest appearance as Larry Hopkins in an episode of “CSI: Miami” called “Raising Caine,” aired on January 14, 2008. Later that same year in October, he began a regular role as Cooper Buffkin in The CW's comedy/drama series “Easy Money.” Ferguson appeared in episodes of “Weeds” (2009, as Keith), “Lie to Me” (2009, as Jimmy), “Castle” (2010, as Dick Coonan) and “Ghost Whisperer” (2010, as Gil Bradley). He also played the recurring role of Stan Rizzo on the AMC hit period drama “Mad Men” (6 episodes, 2010). The same year, the actor also returned to the big screen with a noticeable turn as Elmer Conway in Michael Winterbottom's “The Killer Inside Me,” starring Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba.
In 2011, Ferguson appeared as Agent Norris in an episode of the short lived ABC series “No Ordinary Family” called “No Ordinary Future.” He also played John O'Lear in the episode of “Besieged” of the USA Network drama series “Burn Notice.”
Ferguson has completed filming a supporting role of Keith Clayton in the drama film “The Lucky One,” starring Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling and Blythe Danner. Helmed by Scott Hicks and scripted by Will Fetters, based on Nicholas Sparks' novel of the same name, the film is set to be released in the US on April 20, 2012.